Archive for secrecy

Military spouses, fearing loss of benefits, stay mum about sexual misconduct of husbands

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military spouses wife toughest job

Military spouses have it tough enough, what with worrying if their husband or wife will come home in one piece or even in a box. But military spouses of cheating husbands have been under additional pressure to keep quiet about the extra-curricular activities of their lawfully wedded philanderers. Why? Because if they dare expose the betrayal, they could lose "a lifetime of military benefits if their husbands were dismissed from the Army."

"You're advised to keep your mouth shut and let him retire because you could lose everything."

And so adultery and other sex-related military crimes went unreported. This is tragic.

The Los Angeles Times has an eye-opening report about women finally demanding that their families be protected if their cheating husband is punished harshly for misconduct:

Fear of losing benefits keeps many military wives from exposing sexual misconduct or other offenses committed by their husbands, say many of those familiar with the military criminal justice system. [Kris] Johnson kept quiet about her husband, Col. James H. Johnson III, while he carried on an affair with an Iraqi woman while deployed to that country.

But when Col. Johnson moved his mistress into his military quarters in Italy, his wife turned him in — painfully aware that she and her two children might be cut off from benefits as a result... In both the Johnson and [Rebecca] Sinclair cases, court concerns that dismissing the officers would also punish their families helps explain the relatively light sentences.

As a result of wives campaigning for changes, Congress is requiring the Pentagon to consider "transitional benefits." A study will begin in May. Yes, a study. But it is a step in the right direction. And it's about time. Since 2000, more than 19,000 service members were booted from the military for sexual misconduct. That meant no health or dental care, military IDs, or housing for military spouses and their children. How's that for family values?

Kris Johnson, who urged a petition to Congress for the changes, said her husband, Brig. Gen. Sinclair, and other senior officers felt invincible. "When they had their zippers unzipped," she said, "they weren't' thinking of their families."

Yes, it's highly unlikely that they take their wives and kids into account mid-shtup.

Prosecutors told her that her husband was kept in the Army to protect benefits for her and her children.

Johnson said she supported her husband's career for 25 years, constantly moving and enduring multiple deployments while caring for two children. Like many military spouses, she was unable to build her own career; she relied instead on military benefits...

She finally turned her husband in after enduring his living arrangements with his mistress, the woman who was also by his side when he socialized with fellow officers. Hence the adjective "invincible"... or as I like to call it, sleazy, vile, despicable, and shameless.

You can see why these military spouses were up to here with losing a lifetime of benefits because of these bottom feeders. Let's hope the Pentagon "study" next month produces real results real fast.

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Even if Chris #Christie skates on #Bridgegate, "his ethics troubles won’t be over."

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ethics

New Jersey Gov. Chris "Cleared and Still Heartbroken" Christie has more ethics issues to deal with. Yes, more. Bet you didn't think that was even possible, did you? Guess again.

This time his problems stem from questionable campaign contributions. Surprise! And by that I mean, not surprised in the least. Words like "secretive" and "little-regulated" popped up in this latest report.

Roll Call has the whole story:

Christie’s complicated relationship with campaign contributors and state contractors, in particular, will draw scrutiny as he continues to mull a 2016 presidential bid. Christie’s donors have a history of gravitating to secretive and little-regulated political groups to promote the GOP governor and his agenda.

These include tax-exempt organizations that spent millions on Christie’s gubernatorial election and re-election campaigns, and that operate outside the disclosure rules. [...]

...Christie’s big backers, who have bankrolled several pro-Christie operations, stand out because many of them are state contractors otherwise barred from contributing to his campaign. New Jersey “pay-to-play” laws, considered the strictest in the nation, bar large state contractors, utilities and financial services firms that manage state pension funds from donating to state candidates.

Yet a long list of New Jersey contractors and pension fund managers have given generously to groups that either back or are closely linked with Christie. Such contributions have repeatedly raised questions as to whether Christie supporters are skirting the state’s pay-to-play laws.

Before Governor "Who Moi?" became chairman of the RGA, the organization raised over $500,000 from "New Jersey utilities, individuals and businesses with significant state contracts," according to the New York Times..

Craig Holman, government affairs lobbyist for Public Citizen, said, “Government contractors cannot make contributions directly to Christie, but what they can do is give contributions to the RGA. And the RGA can use those contributions to promote Christie.” It sure did, to the tune of $1.7 million for his re-election.

[Christie spokesman Kevin Roberts] referred CQ Roll Call to Christie’s public comments on Reform Jersey Now in 2009: “There are a group of citizens who are out there to advocate policies in line with mine, and that’s great.”

As with Christie’s more recent troubles, that’s a response that is likely to beg further questions.

Christie's likely response will be, "Ethics schmethics. Shut up, you idiots." And then he'll clear himself.

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WI GOP fast-tracks "dark money" bill in midst of "John Doe" campaign finance violations probe

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citizens united check republic Koch brothers dark money

By now you've probably heard of dark money. I've written about it often. It is when nonprofits spend money on elections by exploiting loopholes in campaign finance disclosure laws. In other words, they don't reveal who their donors are, but use their wealth to influence election outcomes by funding "issue ads." Thank you, Citizens United.

Here's how Rachel Maddow described the practice:

...Millions and millions of dollars, hundreds of millions of dollars, that are intentionally made difficult to trace, funneled to networks that build networks that you can disown when you want to, if you want to.

In that particular segment of her show, she was describing how the Koch brothers operate.

Now we get to see how Republican legislators in Wisconsin operate, or as I like to call it, Dark Money Central.

Via PRWatch.org:

A proposed bill that would keep the public in the dark about the sources of money in Wisconsin elections could also make it easier for dark money groups to coordinate with candidates, an issue of particular salience given the ongoing "John Doe" probe into alleged campaign finance violations in the state. [...]

And most importantly, it could open the door to direct candidate coordination with issue ad groups, potentially undermining what remains of Wisconsin campaign finance law. Prosecutors in the John Doe campaign finance probe are reportedly pursuing a theory of illegal coordination between independent "issue ad" groups and the Walker campaign during the 2011-2012 recalls. [...]

Wisconsin courts have held that if a group is coordinating on issue ads with a candidate, their spending -- regardless of whether it includes express advocacy -- can be considered a contribution, which under Wisconsin law encompasses both cash donations and the giving of anything of value.

If those "contributions" exceeded donation limits and were not reported to the state elections board, the group running coordinated issue ads would be violating election law.

And that is the whole reason for the bill. It would change the "political purpose" definition which would also end up changing the interpretation of "candidate contributions."

Nothing new here, just your typical GOP approach: If you can't get what you want honestly and openly, cheat, lie, defraud, slither, smear, steal, and/or hide.

what's the big secret

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Cover-up: Border agents created pretext to shoot Mexicans

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cover up 2 cover-up

What's that saying again? Oh yeah: The cover-up is worse than the crime... or as in this case, at least as bad. The Los Angeles Times is reporting on border patrol agents who purposely got in the way of oncoming cars in order to justify using deadly force against Mexican drivers. And then U.S. Customs and Border Protection kept their violent little activities hush-hush... from Congress.

The law enforcement experts who wrote up a review of dozens of cases recommended that agents should be trained "to get out of the way… as opposed to intentionally assuming a position in the path of such vehicles." Ordinarily, law enforcement agencies make use-of-force policies public, but not in this case.

And to make matters worse, per Mexican authorities, U.S. border agents who kill Mexicans "are rarely disciplined and the results of investigations are not made pubic for years." According to the Times, the authors said that border agents would stand right there in the road so they could shoot drivers who were trying to avoid arrest. These drivers "posed no direct lethal threat to them or others." Welcome to the U.S.A.:

Border Patrol agents have deliberately stepped in the path of cars apparently to justify shooting at the drivers and have fired in frustration at people throwing rocks from the Mexican side of the border, according to an independent review of 67 cases that resulted in 19 deaths.

The report by law enforcement experts criticized the Border Patrol for "lack of diligence" in investigating U.S. agents who had fired their weapons. It also said it was unclear whether the agency "consistently and thoroughly reviews" use-of-deadly-force incidents.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection, which had commissioned the review, has tried to prevent the scathing 21-page report from coming to light.

House and Senate oversight committees requested copies last fall but received only a summary that omitted the most controversial findings — that some border agents stood in front of moving vehicles as a pretext to open fire and that agents could have moved away from rock throwers instead of shooting at them [...]

The [internal] response rejects the two major recommendations: barring border agents from shooting at vehicles unless its occupants are trying to kill them, and barring agents from shooting people who throw things that can't cause serious physical injury.

Meanwhile, in Arizona:

Border-area residents, upset with what they called an increased militarized presence in their community, began an effort Wednesday to monitor Border Patrol actions at a federal immigration checkpoint about 25 miles north of the U.S.-Mexico border in southern Arizona.

Organizers with a humanitarian aid group called People Helping People in the Border Zone have called on the Border Patrol to remove the checkpoint in Amado, a town of about 300 people. Some residents say they have to deal with unnecessary delays, harassment and sometimes abuse at the checkpoint.

welcome

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Reporting about the Koch brothers' money trail matters, despite their threats.

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citizens united check republic Koch brothers

Kudos to Team Maddow for coming up with the Koch brothers graphic above. Sadly, it's all too accurate.

In the following segment of her show, she starts out by referring to this news report that I posted about back in October 2013: CA fines secretive donor groups, including one linked to Koch brothers:

Anonymous political donors are being fined by my home state of California for their secretive little doings...

Citizens United is still alive and well, unfortunately, and huge amounts of money are still influencing elections, but at least officials here are zeroing in on "dark money" groups like those linked to the Koch brothers.

Please watch the whole video, it's worth it, because Rachel Maddow kicked Koch ass last night:

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Maddow:

The Kochs ... tried to put the Republicans back in control of the Senate. And they failed. They tried to get more Republicans in the House as well, and they failed at that, too...

Change the world. sway elections, but keep your hands clean...

If you are writing checks alongside the Kochs, you get to be part of this Leviathan, far-reaching, well-funded nest of networks and no one ever has to know that about you unless you want them to. The Washington Post called it "a maze of groups that cloaks its donors."

koch brothers money trail WaPo

The Koch brothers say they have nothing to do with drug testing for welfare benefits or with the Florida law. But the group that is promoting that Florida policy around the country is affiliated with the Koch brothers and benefits from being part of their network of conservative political groups. And that matters. And reporting it despite their threats matters...

The Koch brothers are spending and organizing the spending of more money than almost anyone in history to influence American politics. They also fight vociferously to limit real reporting on how much they spend, how they spend it, and what the impact that spending has in our polity. They want to influence American politics. And they are influencing American politics. But they do not want to be known for what it is that they do....

[T]his is also about how American politics works now. And whether it stays in the light, or whether it is allowed to go underground. Because how they are working their side of politics now is millions and millions and millions of dollars, hundreds of millions of dollars, that are intentionally made difficult to trace, funneled to networks that build networks that you can disown when you want to, if you want to.

Does that intentionally opaque political activity get reported on now, or doesn't it? They have tried to make it as hard as possible for that reporting to get done. I say we do it anyway. It's our country too, even if we don't get invited to your billionaires party in Palm Springs every January. 

koch brothers influence

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Koch bros. go-to guy lost groups millions in GOP "dark money"; cowardly wealthy donors scared of unions

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GREENPEACE AIRSHIP OVER KOCH BROTHER MEETING

Recently I posted CA fines secretive donor groups, including one linked to Koch brothers. Anonymous political donors are being fined by my home state of California, but sadly, Citizens United is still alive and well, and huge amounts of money are still influencing elections. But at least California officials are targeting on "dark money" groups like those linked to the Koch brothers.

It gets pretty convoluted, but the short version is this: A Republican guy gets millions and shuttles it through a Republican non-profit group that sends the millions to another Republican guy who knows yet another Republican guy who sends it to yet another Republican guy (or something) who eventually funnels it to a California anti-union, anti-tax campaign until uh-oh! Someone noticed. Bam! Busted.

So now those Republicans have multimillion-dollar problems.

Politically active nonprofits have way too much influence on our elections, but finally, some of them are being fined, costing the the GOP millions. A drop in the bucket, sure, but it's a start.

The Los Angeles Times takes it from there, starting with what "dark money" is:

They provide donors a way to influence elections by piping major money around the country until it resurfaces — without their fingerprints — in a campaign. [...]

Many donors did not want to "put their name on … this fight because they didn't want to face the retribution of the unions," Miller told state investigators. Deep-pocketed labor groups were planning major campaign efforts in 2012, and some conservatives were wary of crossing them. [...]

[Republican strategist and Koch brothers consultant Sean Noble] wanted the Virginia group, Americans for Job Security, to transfer the millions he had raised with [GOP consultant Jeff Miller, lead fundraiser for former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and for Texas Gov. Rick Perry's 2012 presidential campaign] to Noble's center, and he wanted Noble to relay the money to California campaign committees, obscuring the money trail. [...]

A month before the November election, the whole operation came crashing down....  Miller believed Noble hoped to prevent California authorities "from opening up his books," giving them the keys to an entire network of nonprofits that were distributing money around the country.

The money was improperly reported, and when Republican consultant Tony Russo asked Noble to transfer money, Noble balked. "He couldn't spend it in the final two months of the campaign without jeopardizing the anonymity he had promised his rich donors." Russo handed over $25 million, but only about $15 million ended up back in California, and that sparked an investigation. Hence, the fine.

Follow the L.A. Times link for the whole story. It gets complicated. I know I'm confused, but then again, I usually am.

By the way, wealthy GOP donors: If you're not afraid to "redistribute your wealth" in order to get your way, if you're not afraid to bully your way to a win, if you're not afraid to huff and puff and buy election outcomes, then why are you a-skeered of unions who have way less to spend than you do?

chart maddow unions v corps campaign spending smaller

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GOP consultant: Bleak future for CA Republicans, GOP "anathema to younger voters, women, Latinos"

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schadenfreude

I recently posted CA fines secretive donor groups, including one linked to Koch brothers:

California officials are imposing a record $16 million in penalties on secretive political groups that funneled money into initiative campaigns in 2012...

Today I noticed a follow-up article in the Los Angeles Times that reports "a bleak, and now public, assessment for the state [Republican] party." Oh, the schadenfreude. I can barely stand it:

Buried in the avalanche of documents released in the state probe of secretive political groups was a fairly succinct description of the problems facing California Republicans.

It was striking not because of the content made public by the Fair Political Practices Commission -- it mimicked what California Democrats have been saying for years -- but because of the author, Republican consultant and fundraiser Jeff Miller.

Oh come on. How bad can it be?

“Over the last two decades, California’s working class has slowly migrated out of the state and Latino and women voters are completely disenfranchised with the Republican Party. There are only a few pockets of conservative voters left in the state and they are only able to help carry the day for Republicans in ultra-low turnout elections on issues where campaign spending is at parity or to the Republican advantage, and where the Democratic and union grass-roots apparatus is not activated,” Miller’s memo said. “There is no good way to sugarcoat this. ... The Republican label is anathema to younger voters, women and Latinos -- growing voter blocs with real significance to future elections. We are going to be on permanent defense in California for the foreseeable future”

Oh. Wow. Yeah, that's bad.

gop terrible horrible no good very bad year

He went on to say more, including how labor unions have "remained a potent pro-Democratic force." Which, for anyone who still isn't aware, is why the GOP is trying so hard to bust unions into smithereens. They have a ton of corporate donors, we have a few unions:

chart maddow unions v corps campaign spending smaller

Union numbers have been dwindling, thanks to the efforts of people like Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, and so many more Republican governors and state legislatures, not to mention anti-union U.S. Congress members. Privatization and profit are their goals, not what is good for Americans and democracy.

They have to appeal to a diverse voter population without losing the support of their very white, mostly conservative base. And now they're experiencing a political civil war between the CruzBots and those in the party who still have residual impulses to compromise occasionally.

Good luck with that. And you know what they say: As California goes, so goes the nation.

GodIlovemystate.

More schadenfreude here.

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